There hasn’t been a true repeat National Champion since the mid 90’s when Nebraska did it back to back. And even their 1994 title is a little disputed because they were not the only undefeated team in the nation. There I got my little bias out of the way. Before the Trojan fans jump all over me don’t forget that you split that National Title with LSU.
With all those disclaimers out of the way I am going to give you five reasons why the Florida Gators will not repeat as National Champions.
: I am a firm believer in the notion that if you are to win a BCS National Title, you are going to have lady luck on your side throughout the season. USC needed the Bush-push a few years ago, Ohio State needed the much disputed Pass Interference call, and Let’s look at last season: blocked field goal attempt at the end of the game to beat South Carolina, a Tebow hang time jump pass in the LSU game, late game drive to beat Tennessee in Knoxville, the numerous scenarios that had to happen for the Gators to make the BCS title game, and a botched punt return by Arkansas which turned the game totally in the Gators’ favor.
Good plays, yes, but you have to admit that lady luck was on the side of the Gators last year and it usually does not stick around for two consecutive years.
4. Underdog Role
: For most of the year the Gators flew under the radar not only nationally but in their own conference. Most experts thought that it could be Auburn that would run the table, and with an early season loss to Auburn, the Gators were pushed further in the shadows. Even when Florida won they did not win in flash fashion to attract the voters’ attention because most thought it was only a matter of time before they would lose to a lower tier team or get blown out by a LSU, Arkansas, or Tennessee.
The Gators will not have that luxury this season. Each team in the mighty SEC will have their game with Florida circled in red ink. Florida will have to be on their top game every week because they will get the best that every team has to offer. It is hard to do two weeks in a row, let alone every week in a possible 13 or 14 game season.
3. Tim Tebow
: You know the old adage; you don’t know what you’ve got till it is gone? Well I think that is going to apply directly to the Gators this season. Chris Leak came into the 2006 season with a lot of fans calling for his head and hoping that uber-freshman Tim Tebow would take over the reigns. So what did Leak do? Had a tremendous year (not unlike the one before) and lead the Gators to a BCS National Title. Like the rest of the team, there was nothing flashy about Leak, but he got the job done, protected the ball, and had the poise and senior leader which helped the Gators win a lot of close games.
Leak is gone and it is Tebow time. We all know the guy can run, but how is he throwing the ball? How will he handle the pressure of being the full-time quarterback and not just a chance of pace guy? There are a lot of questions still to be answered and only two warm-up regular season games to work out the kinks until Tennessee comes to Gainesville. I believe Tebow will be a really good quarterback, but the Gators will take a step back in this position in 2007.
2. Key Losses
: It is inevidable in college football, seniors graduate and underclassmen leave for the big payday in the NFL. The list of losses for the Gators include: QB Chris Leak, RB DeShawn Wynn, WR Dallas Baker the Touchdown Maker, DE Jarvis Moss, S Reggie Lewis, WR Jamalle Cornelius, C Steve Rissler, two starting linebackers, and a defensive tackle. All of those players were starters and key members in the Gators’ championship run. Florida has had some impressive recruiting classes in recent memory, but to expect those guys to pick up where these left off is a reach.
: This is going to offend fans of the other BCS conferences, but top the bottom the SEC proved once again that it is the toughest conference in the nation. The teams are so close in talent and the rivalries are so fierce that any given week one team can beat another. Look at last season, Kentucky made a name for itself going to a bowl game, three teams in the top 10 (Florida at 1 and LSU at 3), and 4 in the overall top 25. Other quality teams such as Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, and South Carolina all had 8 or more wins.
The only two teams that were an utter-embarrassment to the conference were Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. Florida’s schedule includes trips to LSU, Kentucky, and South Carolina. While at home they have Tennessee, Auburn, and Florida State. Florida State should be much improved from last season, Tennessee returns a good number of starters including QB Erik Ainge, and LSU is mentioned as a contender for the National Title even without #1 pick Russell. And don't forget that Steve Spurrier would love to hand the Gators a loss when they come to visit South Carolina this year.